Sunday, February 19, 2012

Online Sources for Research

   The following online sources I use to find information about our ancestry. A word of caution:  when you are reading a book authored by this or that person, check the validity of the information against primary sources (birth/death/marriage information).  I have reviewed the books by James Miller, Johnston, Charles Silas Hatcher and Oren Frederic Morton.  Their information was sometimes incorrect and subsequent authors used this same material to write their own books. For example, the story that President Hayes's wife was a daughter of Jennie Pack.  This is false.  She was the daughter of Dr. James Webb and Maria Cook Webb of Chillicothe, Ohio. Trefousse's biography of President Hayes does not mention the name Pack and I did a search via the Hayes Presidential Library and nothing surfaced.

Excellent sources for PRIMARY materials:

WV Archive Online.

1.  Go to the main page.
2.  Scroll down to "Explore Archives and History...", at the bottom of the page
3.  Click on Births, Deaths, and Marriages (database)
4.  You might need to try different spellings of an ancestor's name. The people who constructed the database tried their best to read the handwriting on records, but they didn't always read/ interpret the names correctly.  Also, try putting in different information in the fields to get the results out that you need.

Library of Virginia Online

1.  Go to the "West Virginia" page
2.  Go to "Land Office Patents and Grants" heading.
3.  Click on "Land Office Patents and Grants database".
4.  You can try the tab "Images and Indexes".  I have more luck finding online materials here.  You can also try the full catalog tab for a broader search.
Unfortunately, not all Va's records are downloadable or online, BUT some wills and land grants have been uploaded.  We must lobby for VA to upload their materials to the web!  With a host of info on early American settlers on their hands, I think it is their civic duty.

Good source for SECONDARY materials: 

Google Books
Go to Google Books, then type in the name of an early settler ancestor you are looking for.  I've had luck doing this.  Sometimes you can only review certain pages, but many early books existed before modern copyright law (or not renewed, etc. under such) so the full text is accessible.

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